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A .404 Jeffery Stalking Rifle by Dennis Daigger
Finishing the Stock Over the years I have tried different wood finishes on gunstocks and I like the sand-in type the best. It has proven to be durable in Alaska's challenging climatic conditions, is relatively easy to repair and provides a lustrous display of the stock's innate figure and character.
Wood surface preparation starts with sanding out all marks left by the tools that were used to shape the stock. Norton's No-Fil Adalox sand papers are aggressive and extraordinarily durable. They are simply the finest sand papers I have every used in cabinet making or stock making and it comes in a wide range of grits. I use these papers for nearly all my metal preparation also.
I start with the P150 paper and incrementally move through 240 and finish with 320. I have a number of small wood blocks and dowels that are used as paper backing to properly maintain the curves, the flat areas and the transition zones that are part of the stock profile.
Once the final sanding is done, I turn the water faucet on and dab and spread small amounts of very warm water over the entire stock surface using my fingers. The stock is then set aside to dry. The purpose of this step is to release the wood fiber that has been pressed into the wood pores during the final sanding. This wood fiber when wetted lifts out of the pores and dries above the sanded surface. If I have sun I put the stock in a window frame to dry and can sand the 'whiskers' off in several hours. If this is not possible, I let the stock set overnight to dry. When dry, I give the entire stock surface a light sanding with 320 grit paper to just remove the whisker. This process is then repeated and the stock is now ready for application of the finish.
I used Flecto's Varathane Plastic Oil and Sealer to good effect for a number of years and when it was no longer available I started using Pilkington's red-brown Classic Gun Stock Finish. It is relatively easy to use and it gives consistent results on the thin shelled walnut woods that I work. I apply the finish using the method described in the instruction sheet accompanying the finish. In a nutshell, the initial applications are diluted finish to allow for deep penetration into the pores. Applications between drying continue until a surface build up starts. The pores are now filled using wet and dry sand papers. Small pieces of the paper are dipped in finish and , again backed to maintain proper shapes, are used to just scuff the wood surface creating a slurry of wood dust particles and finish. This slurry is then worked into the pores and allowed to dry and then the process is repeated with finer grit papers until the pores are fully filled. I finish with 400 paper and then the stock is ready to checker.
After the checkering is completed a series of very thin applications of linseed oil completes the job.
Leather Covering a Pad While putting the finish in and on the stock is old hat, I have never done a leather covered pad. I purchased a piece of leather a number of years ago from Galazan that was advertised for this use. I bought it from them as it was the only place I could find leather specifically marketed for covering recoil pads and knew nothing about what was required. Because the leather is thick and the underlying soft part of the leather was inconsistent I had never used it. There is a locally owned leather store in my area that has a large selection of high quality pig and goat leather and I bought four large pieces from them. The pieces are considerably lower in price than the Galazan leather, three to four times as large and better quality so when I got ready to do the pad on this rifle I started with one of these pieces.
I picked a piece that had the least stretch thinking that the wetting before forming would give it the pliability needed to pull out the wrinkles. As you will recall, the butt of my rifle has a curve so my form also had to have the appropriate curve. I used a 5/8" thick piece of hardwood that was 3 1/2" wide by 6" long. I drilled screw holes in it and mounted the recoil pad on it. The form was then put in a vise to hold it firmly. The leather piece was soaked in luke warm water and laid on top of the pad. I started by stapling the leather onto one side of the form. Then I pulled the leather taut on the other side and stapled that tail onto the side of the form as well. I then did the heel and toe of the pad. With the four quadrants secure I started stretching and securing between each set of staples and when I had these four staples in I continued to work between the staples. I then put another series of staples in as high on the form as I could to pull the leather in under the pad.
I could not get all the wrinkles out at the toe of the pad and thought that they might go away when the leather dried. Not so. I abandoned this piece and reverted to the Galazan leather. This leather measured .037" and the other leather I had was around .025". I took the pad back to the disc sander and removed .015" all the way around. Had I not done this the pad would have been quite visibly proud of the butt stock. The repeat exercise with the Galazan leather went as planned and then it was dry I located and marked the pad screw location on the outside and removed it from the pad which I left mounted on the form.
I don't like plugs in leather covered pads so using a sharp xacto blade I cut a longitudinal slit in the leather about 3/16" long at each of the screw locations. I everted the leather and applied a thin, even coat of 3M spray contact cement to it. Then contact cement was applied to the pad also and after the coated surfaces became tacky the leather was carefully repositioned on the pad.
The shank of a small diameter Philips driver was lightly coated with a gel type lubricant used on double gun hinge pins and the pad was removed from the form without backing the screws out. The leather that would be attached to the bottom of the pad was trimmed and wedges were removed to allow it to lie flat. Using a brush-on contact cement the leather was glued down to the bottom surface of the pad. Once again lubricating the screw bit, the pad was installed on the stock.Next-Part 7-Engraving, Rust Bluing and Nitre Bluing